A booming business

I was doing my major grocery shopping on Friday night. The store wasn’t too busy – not like Friday nights used to be way back when they were open till 9 pm only on Thursdays and Fridays, till 6 pm the rest of the time and closed on Sundays. (Wow. How did working people ever manage to get any grocery shopping done with such limited hours back then?!)

As I was pushing my trolley round the store, it occurred to me that this was a terribly middle-aged thing to do, grocery shopping on a Friday night. Aren’t most people out with friends or doing some interesting activity on Friday nights?

And then it hit me. I AM middle-aged!

This is a difficult concept for me to comprehend. I am a baby boomer, and as such, there has always been more of us than of them. Whole subdivisions have been built to house our parents and us. New parks were created so we could play. Entire schools were constructed to educate us. Products were invented for us, advertisers catered to us. Hell, a whole culture grew around my demographic – everything revolved around us always!

I am not a first-wave boomer, meaning that I was too young to really be a part of the sixties generation. I was just a little kid in the sixties, but I do remember my dad taking us downtown to “look at the hippies” and being quite fascinated by the clothes and especially the hair. As I approached double-digits in age, I recall the protests and social unrest of the times – not that there was a lot of that in Vancouver, but I know I knew about it. I even remember Greenpeace coming into existence. And even though I came to it later, almost after the fact, the incredible music of that time made an indelible impression upon me, too.

And I, like probably every other boomer, took it for granted that I would be important forever. I would always be part of the generation that turned the world on its side, the target group of every study and every campaign. We would be young forever, everyone would want to be one of us forever.

And now I’m actually middle-aged? Seriously???

Logically, I knew it was coming. I realized a decade or two ago that the current music was just noise to my ears. I understood that many of the latest fashion trends were just ridiculous for a woman my age to wear. I’ve been colouring my hair for a number of years now (I keep asking my hairdresser to only colour the gray hair, but she keeps laughing at me, little twenty-something that she is). I’ve noticed more bodily aches and pains, less energy, some unwelcome changes to my shape. I think more about aging and illness and – gulp! – death.

But emotionally, it’s hard to come to terms with.

I keep thinking that, as a boomer, I am part of the generation that seems to be redefining aging. We are NOT going “gentle into that good night”. We are getting older kicking and screaming, something I’m not sure that our parents did as overtly as we are. We are trying to hang on to our youth, to be seen to be younger than our parents were at the same age. We want to keep what we consider our rightful place at the centre of the universe. Is that right or fair to those who follow us? I don’t know, but either we’re onto something, or else there’s just too many of us for any other demographic group to push back.

Well, in my head, I’m only 25. But I’m very wise for my age.

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16 responses to “A booming business

  1. I love middle-aged women, but that may be a reflection of my age and I, darling sis, am a first waver boomer (sigh), Child o’ the sixties et al. Nothing we can do about it except shop on a Friday evening and wonder what in the fuck happened to music.

    And you used the term ‘trolley’ for shopping cart. I think I love you. When I used that when WEndy and I were first going together she looked at me weirdly and suggested it must be a remnant of my year in England.

    • mrwriteon – I think I actually use a lot of British expressions – not too sure why, as I’ve only visited and have never lived there, but maybe because I’m a word person and easily appropriate vocabulary used by other people. I recently glanced through a “British-American dictionary” somewhere on-line, and I realized that I already knew almost all the expressions in there, and actively used many of them. My current favourite is “pants”, as in “I’m pants at math but I’m good with words”.

      • I don’t know the UK use of the word ‘pants’, since I thought that was they referred to undies as being. So must check it out.

        • mrwriteon – That’s true, so I suppose the expression refers to being – uh – flimsy and lacy and rather insubstantial at doing something? (And there you go with the underwear again!)

  2. I have an old date book from when I was in my mid 20s and I keep it to surprise myself every time I look through it at just how busy I was with so many activities every night! Now, if I go out all day on a Saturday, I am exhausted all day on Sunday. I hate that constant tiredness.

    • VioletSky – You surprise yourself? If it were me, I would depress myself! Actually, I’ve never been much for going out on “school nights”. I’ve always needed lots of sleep and lots of alone time, so I’ve truly never been a super-active person all the time. I can do it occasionally, but not TOO often (and of course, less often than ever now!)

  3. I almost never go out on a Friday night and I’m only in my 20s. Old before me time? :-/

  4. It dawned on me the other day that, at 48, I now have more years behind me than in front. And, boy, did that weird me out. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

  5. My oldest son started college this year. I keep wondering how that is possible when, like you, I’m only 25. 🙂

  6. I too am becoming invisible, but at least not to the people who are involved in my life and who count. I do notice over here that the marketers are starting to address themselves much more to people of my generation and that includes the women. We are becoming a force to be reckoned with because there are so many of us and we do have the money (not me personally, of course). All those lotions and potions have to be sold to somebody.

    • Nora – I think that’s true here, too. Marketers do seem to have discovered lately that our generation is huge and has disposable income – lots of it, apparently – and that we are willing to spend it on all kinds of stuff to maintain the illusion of youth. Sigh – more and more I understand that old saying about youth being wasted on the young!

  7. Yeah, we’re just old now. I seem to be becoming invisible (even more so than I’ve always been) and I’m not sure I like it.

    • Jazz – I can’t quite imagine you ever being invisible, somehow … but yeah, I know what you mean. And it’s worse for women, baby boomers or not, because older women of every generation have always been pretty much ignored or ridiculed in our culture. Maybe we boomers will start to change that???